(Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
For a brief moment over the weekend it looked like society had “evolved” to the point where a woman can have an awkward first date, engage in consensual sexual activity, then write an anonymous piece accusing the man of assault and be taken seriously.
An anonymous woman, going by the name “Grace,” gave an exclusive interview to Babe.net (which apparently is just this week launching its email newsletter, coincidentally) titled “I Went on a Date With Aziz Ansari. It Turned Out to Be the Worst Night of My Life.” She detailed how horrible it was to be served the wrong color of wine without even being asked her opinion, go out to a nice dinner, and have an awkward sexual encounter with the celebrity before he got her an Uber home. (If that ranks as the worst night of her life, she probably shouldn’t be an adult out in the world.)
By Sunday night, the majority of Twitterpinion was siding with Ansari, noting that this story does a huge disservice to the #MeToo movement and is a slap in the face to sexual assault victims. But self-proclaimed feminists (who probably mostly live in places like New York City, Los Angeles, or San Francisco) were having none of that.
That is still coming forward. And it is time to stop boxing people in with labels. Rape, assault, forced, coerced, begging for sex, taking advantage of another person for personal sexual reasons, THIS IS ALL THE SAME. As women let's stand together.
— Kirby Sommers (@LandlordLinks) January 15, 2018
Stop boxing people in with labels?
As a woman who has been the victim an actual rape, I vehemently disagree. There’s a reason there are labels, and that reason is to make distinctions. I would trade the memory of laying helpless while I was violated by someone I trusted with the anonymous accuser’s experience any day. She probably felt degraded by the way she was treated, but she could have walked out at any moment and nothing was forced on her.
A number of commenters noted that Ansari asked for consent numerous times during the encounter, but those comments, according to the feminists, “feel super unhelpful to conversations on consent.” Actually, those comments are starting a conversation on consent. If you believe he didn’t ask for consent, then explain what asking for consent would look like? And why is it all on the man? Tweets like the ones below demonstrate that what these women want is not a conversation about consent, but for them to dictate the definition of consent (which would likely change depending on how the situation “feels”).
The piece is firmly on the "Why didn't she leave?" side the argument and basically called women who are coerced into sex "weak" and the Babe article "revenge porn."
This piece feels super unhelpful to conversations on consent, IMO https://t.co/2rNlnanXyQ
— Britni Danielle (@BritniDWrites) January 15, 2018
In the “feminist” hive mind, Grace’s experience (her “truth”) is a prime example of – you guessed it – rape culture.
Meghan Murphy, “founder and editor of @feministcurrent,” laid it out in a tweet storm.
No, it is not “rape culture,” whatever that silly term means. I believe by reading the rest of Ms. Murphy’s tweets on the matter that rape culture would be defined as one in which men believe women’s sexuality is theirs for the taking without consequence. There *are* cultures like that in this world, but current American social culture is most definitely not one of them.
Of course, some men behave boorishly – and some of them do so regularly. From personal experience and experiences shared by both male and female friends, I believe most men have behaved boorishly at some point in their lives. (And most women have behaved in not-so-kind ways toward men at some point in their lives.) This does not equal a rape culture.
Ms. Murphy complains that men look at women as sexual objects. Yes, that is one of the lenses through which men look at women. How do you think you arrived on this earth, Ms. Murphy? A man looked at a woman and wanted to have sex with her. It’s called biology. For the vast majority of men, a woman’s sexuality is only one facet of what they see – but it’s a crucial one.
To the extent that men believe they should expect sex from a first date or even a casual hookup, women should look at how they contribute to that expectation. Since a good number of women claim to be okay with and participate in random sexual encounters, men can’t be faulted for trying. As Sarah Rumpf excellently pointed out, this “expectation” is one of the consequences of the hookup culture. It’s not an indication of a rape culture.
Speaking of rape, or any kind of unwanted sexual advance, there are ways women can take precautions to avoid being a victim. But don’t point that out on Twitter. One woman was shamed after she gave some level-headed advice in reply to one of Ms. Murphy’s tweets.
To avoid unwanted advances; don't go to a man's apartment after dinner; take a walk; go dancing; go home alone. Duh!
— Holly Forsman (@Holly500) January 15, 2018
Holly is absolutely correct. Even though I’m an older white woman (which invalidates my opinion in some quarters), I’ll share a few of my own tips to avoid unwanted advances.
- Never go to the home of someone you barely know, just the two of you. (In this case the woman may think she knew Aziz because of his public persona, but he was still basically a stranger.)
- Always have money for a taxi or Uber with you.
- Leave the moment you feel uncomfortable.
- Have a girlfriend on standby if you’re on a date with someone you’ve just met. Decide on a code word you can text if the situation turns bad.
- Give the girlfriend on standby the name and phone number of the person you’re going on a date with and where you’ll be going. (Then if you have to use the code word text, they know where you are.)
These tips can help a woman be the one in charge of what happens to her own body instead of, you know, giving that power over to a man. But who wants the responsibility that comes with being in charge of your own actions?
The accusations against Ansari are ridiculous, and the feminist insistence on characterizing this as “rape culture” is super unhelpful to conversations on how to address real issues of sexual harassment and assault in the workplace.